Home Reduce Recycle

Reduce= to use less resources or to make less trash.

* The U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world. It is estimated that 1,609 pounds of garbage is produced per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.

* Americans generate and throw away nine times as much waste as a person in Africa or Central America, but we also generate two to three times the amount of waste as people living in industrial countries with a comparable or better standard of living as us.

~Bringing your own bag to the store has become a popular new trend in many grocery stores in recent years. Did you know that in a year, one supermarket goes through 60,500,000 paper bags?Just think of how many different grocery stores there are in the United States! That's a lot of bags which equals a lot of trees cut down. Plastic bag use is also an issue because they are made from oil and are harder to recycle.

*The ironic part is that nearly 75% of our garbage could potentially be recycled. Here is the composition of a typical landfill in the U.S.:


Decomposition is something to also be considered when we decide to reduce the amount of trash we're sending to the landfills. This topic can be tied into a variety of science and social studies standards and themes. Although many things will decompose eventually and become part of the earth (use composing as an example of this), most take more than our lifetime to do so and may never break down completely. They will therefore forever be a part of the landfills. Check out these statistics:

Object and Decomposition Time
Styrofoam container ----(more than 1 million years)
Plastic jug ----(1 million years)
Aluminum can ---(200-500 years)
Disposable diaper---(550 years)
Tin can ---(90 years)
Leather shoe ---(45 years)
Wool sock ---(1 year)
Paper bag ---(1 month)
Banana peel ---(3-4 weeks )

Classroom Applications:

~Teach your students to recycle instead of throwing away. This is an easy way to reduce the amount of trash that is generated and will be discussed more on the "Recycle" page.

~Ask students to use both sides of the paper so to reduce the amount of paper they are using in the first place. Plus this will be cheaper because you'll also have to buy less paper in the long run.

~Encourage students to bring a re-usable water bottle to school if they use one. That way they are reducing the amount of plastic they are using from disposable plastic bottles. There are many options out there from nalgene bottles, new Kleen Kantene bottles made out of aluminum, and other options. Do use caution, though, with plastic bottles as some of the plastic materials have been rather controversial.

~Create a standard for how much paper towel the students are allowed to use when drying their hands. Some schools that use "1-2-3 Save a tree!" as a slogan when using push down paper towel holders. After a couple of weeks of training, this will become a habit for them.

~Worm composting can be a fun way to save food scraps, newspaper, and organic materials (such as coffee grounds from the staff room) from ending up in the trash can. Some counties offer inexpensive classes or grants to reduce or eliminate the cost to you. Plus, the worms use the organic materials that they are fed and create rich soil that could be used for class /school gardening projects. This project can be tied to both science and social studies themes.

Worm Composting Bin from Happy D Ranch

~In general, just encourage children not to be so wasteful. This is the opposite of what our busy society is teaching them. Think of creative ways to generate less trash. Creating positive habits in young children will make possible a cleaner and less wasteful society in years to come.